Monday, November 29, 2010
City commission to meet at night
Iola’s city commission will begin meeting at 6 p.m. starting Dec. 14, commissioners decided Tuesday.
Mayor Bill Maness and Commissioner Bill Shirley approved the new meeting time. Commissioner Craig Abbott was absent.
Maness has long proposed the evening meeting time, saying it would allow more public participation.
The change should allow prospective candidates for the council — eight seats plus a mayor will be up for grabs in April’s election — time to attend at least a couple of meetings before the end of the filing deadline, Maness said.
Prospective candidates will have until noon Jan. 25 to file, whether by petition bearing an as-yet-undetermined number of voter signatures, or by paying a $10 filing fee.
City Attorney Chuck Apt said new council members will serve without pay. A charter ordinance could proclaim otherwise.
Should the new council vote to pay themselves, such action would not take effect until after the next election, unless they passed an additional charter ordinances altering that, Apt said.
Commissioners discussed whether Iola should re-establish a dedicated animal control officer, and, if so, should that position be full or part-time and under the auspices of law enforcement or code enforcement departments.
Police Chief Jared Warner noted that, to date this year, the department responded to 702 calls for service regarding animal control issues. Those calls led to 50 actual cases being filed, mainly for animal cruelty and some for dog bites, he said. Warner said also that more dogs are being reclaimed by their owners than in years past.
Last year, a total of 873 calls were received, but only 45 cases were filed.
“We are generating more cases,” Warner said, although action on calls regarding nuisance wildlife is harder without a dedicated officer.
Such calls, mainly for skunks, are referred to Heinrich Pest Control.
Shirley expressed concern that that puts the onus of paying for removal of a nuisance animal on a homeowner.
Heinrich apparently doesn’t charge much for the service, Warner said.
When the former animal control officer left in May of 2009, the position was left vacant because the city was seeking to save money, said Judy Brigham, city administrator. It costs between $65,000 and $68,000 per year to maintain an animal control officer, she said, factoring in salary, fuel and other expenses.
One possibility might be to contract out such services, Maness said. “We are responsible for having animal control, but we don’t have to do it directly,” he said.
Citizen Ray Shannon inquired about changing a proposed dog park site from south of Elm Creek, which he proclaimed “isolated.”
Brigham said the city was considering land it already owns, which is already fenced, at the base of an unused water tower in the center of town.
The site met with approval.
Shannon also inquired about cars refusing to stop for pedestrians, especially those crossing Madison Avenue near the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
Warner said he will look into the expense of installing pedestrian crossing signs in the area to alert drivers that they must — by law — stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Apt remarked “It’s the law — they have to stop.”
The fact is, Shannon remarked, they are not.
In other action, the commission accepted a bid from Heartland Midwest LLC of Olathe for installation of sanitary sewer in the Cedarbrook third addition which will allow for continued development of the area.
Commissioners also accepted a recommendation from Cory Schinstock, to hire a survey of land in the 1700 block of East Street that has repeated drainage issues. Installing specially built rectangular concrete pipe to drain the area will run about $100,000 Schinstock said. “We don’t know completely what needs to be done,” Apt said, adding “we need to have a survey done.”
The drainage issues “has needed to be done or some time,” Schinstock said.
The city also approved purchase of new billing software for the Emergency Management Services department in the amount of $2,995. The software is compatible with current city software and will allow for generation of more reports or greater complexity. Money for the purchase will come form the EMS fund, Brigham said.
“I searched other cities and this was the most popular software” for EMS billing City Clerk Roxanne Hutton said.
nov. 24 2010